VDOT is in the process of designing changes to Route 1 as it travels through Crystal City.
The changes include turning Route 1 from more of a highway to an urban boulevard of sorts, with the heavily-traveled commuter route brought down to grade in places where it’s currently elevated.
That means removing the imposing overpasses that, on one hand, physically separate portions of Crystal City — but on the other hand provide a relatively safe path for pedestrians and cyclists to get from one side to the other.
Under the VDOT plan, there would be more intersections mixing vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
Though the urban boulevard idea is supported by the National Landing Business Improvement District and major local property owner JBG Smith, VDOT’s initial design of it, with 9 vehicle travel lanes and no bike infrastructure, has managed to pick up united opposition from the BID, JBG, neighborhood groups and other local activists.
Last year we published a poll asking about the idea of bringing Route 1 underground instead, an expensive proposition but one supported by local civic associations. Just over 75% of respondents preferred that idea to an at-grade urban boulevard.
The BID and some neighbors would like to see the urban boulevard concept implemented, but in a more pedestrian-friendly manner with fewer vehicle travel lanes. VDOT and some other locals, however, are concerned that would cause more cut-through traffic on local roads.
Today we’re asking: assuming that an underground Route 1 is infeasible, what about just keeping the overpasses largely as is? Is that preferable to the alternatives? Or should VDOT stick to some form of the urban boulevard idea, perhaps refining its initial concept plan?